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Birdies On Every Hole

Trio inaugurates the Reynolds 119 Club

Jerry Keyes, Peter Lehmann, and Scott Ambrose are the inaugural members of the Reynolds 119 Club. Photo by Terry Massey

Story by Lynn Hobbs, photos by Terry Massey

There’s an exclusive club at Reynolds Lake Oconee that has only three members.

The Reynolds 119 Club consists of golfers who have birdied every hole on Reynolds’ six championship golf courses—all 119 of them.*

Peter Lehmann was the first to accomplish the feat on April 26, 2022. Jerry Keyes became the second member of the club on March 27, 2023. And Scott Ambrose joined their ranks earlier this year.

“So, Pete’s the president of the club, I’m the vice president, and Scott’s the treasurer,” Jerry said with a laugh.

When he made the 119 Club, Jerry had this special Yeti cup made with his and Peter's names. Scott's name was added with a label maker when he joined their ranks -- a joke amongst the trio. Photo by Terry Massey

But they won’t be alone forever. At least 40 other golfers in the community are now tracking their birdies so they, too, can claim verified membership in the club. Anytime they see Peter, Jerry or Scott out on the course, they tell their updates.

“Some have 50, some have 100, so they only have a few more to go,” Peter said. “But it’s not an easy thing to do, so it might be awhile.”

He gave the example of a golfer needing to birdie only two more holes to reach the elusive 119 number. “But those holes are on the Oconee course and you don’t play the Oconee course every day, so it’s hard to get a birdie on those two holes. So, you’ve just got to play a lot of golf,” he explained. “Just play, play, play.”

Each of the three men said they play 250 to 290 rounds per year, depending on the weather.

“It took me four years and almost three months to accomplish it, but I did birdie every hole,” Peter said. “I made a spreadsheet of each course and each hole, and then each time I birdied a hole, I marked the spreadsheet.”

Scott said his tracking technique isn’t as high tech. Scott first learned of the challenge from Jerry when they first met in May of 2021.

Peter makes a putt, photo by Terry Massey

“So I got a score card for every course, a blank one, and kept them at home,” Scott said. “And when I got home from playing golf, I used my score card from the game that day to mark the birdies on the cards at home.

“It was easy at first, but then when you start getting closer to that magical number, like 10 away from it, you tense up every time you get to one of those holes that you need to birdie. And if you don’t get it, you get frustrated.”

“It gets in the back of your mind, so it gets to you when you’re out there,” Peter agreed. “When I only had 10 holes to go and I came to one of those holes, I didn’t tell anybody,” he laughed. “I kept it to myself so that way there wouldn’t be a lot of banter going on.”

The President’s Visualization

Peter began his quest to birdie every hole shortly after moving to Reynolds in 2018. He learned of the idea from a friend on Skidaway Island, where Peter and his wife, Jeanne, lived before moving to Reynolds. There, Peter and Jeanne both enjoyed playing The Landing’s six championship golf courses and Peter joined his friend in tracking his own birdies and trying to birdie every hole. But his quest was cut short when the violent 2017 Atlantic record-breaking hurricane season drenched and disturbed their peaceful paradise.

“The storms came and my wife said she was moving and she invited me to come along,” Peter quipped. “So as soon as I got here, I started making a new list.”

Peter Lehmann

Peter made his first birdie at Reynolds on Preserve No. 18 on Feb. 2, 2018, and birdied 77 holes that first year. “The next year, I only got 18; it’s a lot harder, and then the third year I only got 13, and then seven and the last year, four,” he detailed.

And then came that final birdie on Cove No. 5 on The National course.

“My last one was actually an easy hole, a par 4, and I had a lot of chances to make birdie on it, but the ball just never fell in the hole,” he recalled. “So my last one really wasn’t that hard, it just took me awhile.”

Scott Ambrose

Considering Peter’s passion and dedication for golf, it’s hard to imagine that he had never picked up a golf club until he was 33 years old. Always very athletic, Peter said he played a lot of baseball and basketball. When he was in his 30s, his father-in-law wanted to play golf but had no one to play with. Peter’s wife and mother-in-law kept asking Peter to go play with him.

“And I was like, I’m from Queens, New York. Nobody from Queens plays golf,” Peter said with a laugh and explained that he thought golf was too easy and boring.

When he finally gave in to the requests, Peter was surprised at what he learned. “I’ve always been very good at sports, but that was the hardest sport I’ve ever tried to play. So, I was hooked and after that first time, I’ve been playing ever since.”

Peter recalled that he was accustomed to defense players challenging his efforts to score in the other sports he played.

“In golf, there’s no defense, nobody yelling, nobody grabbing my jersey, the ball just sits there and doesn’t move. It’s like why?” he described. “When somebody throws the baseball to you, you don’t have time to program what’s going on, you just react. But in golf, you stand there and get to think and plan what you’re going to do, and then you screw it up.”

Jerry Keyes is the second to be inducted in the Reynolds 119 Club. By Terry Massey

The Vice President’s Line of Flight

Jerry said he’s golfed since age 14, “but not all the time. School, work and family cuts into all that.” After his daughter went to college, Jerry started spending more time on the golf course. In 2019 while playing in a Reynolds Men’s Golf Association Tuesday group, he learned of Peter’s goal to birdie all 119 holes, and Jerry began tracking his own birdies. A little over four years later, he accomplished his goal with his final birdie on Bluff No. 7 on The National. He said Peter was with him when he did it.

Everybody knows what hole you need, so when you get there, they’re saying, ‘Is this the one you need?’ so it puts more pressure to birdie it. That hole gave me so much trouble over the years, so it was good to finally make that putt,” he said. “It was all fun. When you’re retired and golfing every day, you have to do something to keep it a challenge and make it more fun.”

He said keeping track of every hole helped him focus more on his play each day.

“That’s the key piece is keep trying to improve, especially on the holes that give you trouble,” he advised, noting that there are some holes that he has only birdied that one time. He opined that the 16th and the 18th on the Oconee course are the most difficult. And like Peter, who described the 12th hole on the Landing as “diabolical”, Jerry said, “If you can birdie those, you’re in good shape.”

The Treasurer’s Scramble

It didn’t take Scott quite as long to make the 119 Club. He started in May 2021 and made his last birdie on Cove No. 8 at The National on Feb. 5, 2024. Jerry was with him when he made the putt and captured it on video.

“Funny thing is, it was a really cold day so I took out a club I wouldn’t normally use, and I hit the green,” Scott said with a laugh. “And it turned out to be only a 10-foot putt. So, it happens when you least expect it. I know a lot of people birdie that hole, but it was just hard for me. There are a lot of tougher holes at Reynolds, but this one was the one I needed, so that made it tougher.”

Like Jerry, Scott also started golfing at age 14. “But I really wasn’t into it until I met my wife, Sandra, in 2004 because she’s in the golf business,” he said. That was when he started playing regularly, and then almost daily after he retired in 2020.

“I just like being outdoors,” he said of his days on the golf course. “I walk and carry my bag so it’s good exercise. Plus, it’s a whole different feeling being out there with your friends and the banter going on with everybody.”

The Follow-Through

Now that they’ve accomplished birdieing every hole, what’s next? Scott and Jerry started a new challenge of seeing who could birdie the most holes in a single year with no repeats. The challenge ran through the calendar year in 2023. Scott won with 110 and Jerry got 90. They started anew on Jan. 1 of 2024 and two friends joined the pursuit.

After making two aces, both on the 17th hole of different courses, Scott also is challenging himself to ace the 17th hole on all the courses.

After Peter achieved the 119 birdies, he decided to shoot his age every year. He has accomplished that every year since he was 69 and he’s now 72. “In May, I’ll be 73, so starting the end of May, I’ve got to start trying to shoot a 73 somewhere,” he said. “Everybody says getting older helps with this challenge, but really nothing gets easier the older you get, so I guess I’ve got to stay healthy,” he added.

. . .

*Note: Technically, Reynolds has 117 holes on its six golf courses, but the Jim Engh-designed Creek Club’s 18th hole is unique with three separate greens. So the extra two greens are added into the 119 holes birdied challenge.

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This story appeared in Lakelife magazine, Volume 18, Issue 2 and is the property of Smith Communications, Inc. No portions of the story or photos may be copied or used without written consent from the publisher.


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